Friday, August 8, 2014

Welcome to Fairyland

The kids and I, along with cousin A, made some improvements to the space behind the cabin in Maine this year.
First, we added signage

Fairies use blueberry juice for ink

Fairy bonfire

Fairy dugout

Fairy Teepee

Fairy pavilion

Fairy townhouse

Townhouse entrance. Also notice circular window.

Fairy modernist pad, with fungi path

Where the fairies dance.


Reading: Bean Trees and David's new script

Writing: No but I saw a very good writer friend, who is also my doppel-g. I love her and miss her and would love to spend hours talking with her about writing and reading and teaching and cooking and walking and being. Instead, we had a whirlwind family traipse through Salem, MA.

Dinner: My doppel-g took us for cocktails and beautiful seafood in Salem. The cocktail was a Ginger: gin and cucumber and ginger beer. To eat, I had the hake marsala.

Soundtrack: Iggy Pop in the cafe where we lunched. Not in person, on the radio.

Random thing: We spent the afternoon in the Peabody Essex Museum, where we saw many wonderful things, including an entire 18th-century Chinese house. My favorite things, though, were the bower bird painting by MJ Mcconnell (there's a Frontline doc about her) and the video of a living room slowly filling with animals by Corinne Schitt, both part of an exhibit called "Beyond Human."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bird Report

A wax wing. (Thank you, Wikimedia)

Last night before Wine Hour I was resting on the couch on the porch and listening to the birds. There was something making a high twittery, churring sound nearby, so high pitched it was almost out of hearing range. A couple of somethings by the sound of it. I couldn't tell if it was coming from the oak tree off to my right or from the tangle of lilacs, apple trees, scrubby bushes and pines over across the drive. I thought maybe it was hummingbirds. The other evening a green hummingbird darted out of the the oak tree and hung in front of the porch inspecting us for 10-20 seconds before making a curlicue dance and darting off towards the lilacs. Finally I got up to investigate and found that the big fluffy orange cat from the big house was also prowling around our yard. I determined the sound was coming from the somewhere in the lilacs and just as my father in law came out of the house and asked me what I was doing, a pair of cedar wax wings leapt up out of the brush and lighted on the top of the tallest pine tree. They posed there prettily for a few moments then flew into the woods.

Yesterday we also came upon a gray catbird perched on the back of a bench at the top of the stairs from the beach. We paused a couple stairs down, our heads level with the bench but far away enough that I guess we blended in with the tall grass and raspberries because the bird didn't seem to notice us at all.

In the late afternoon, one can often spot the local osprey flying out to sea to hunt. Once I saw it returning with a fish.

Other coming sightings are a pair particularly plump robins tugging worms in our yard, oodles of goldfinches, scads of chickadees, and something fast, big, and black and white (a woodpecker of some sort, methinks). On the water there are gulls, of course, including a large all-gray gull that I can't identify, cormorants, flotillas of young loons, and quite a few terns. There is also something that rasps loudly in the woods near the cabin in the morning and something that sings prettily in the woods at dusk. These may be the same thing. I'm guessing maybe it is a mockingbird, although the rasp could be a particularly vociferous squirrel or a very large insect.

Reading: I finally finished reading American Gods yesterday, 2 days after I was hoping to finish it. I read the last 40 pages or so very slowly, reluctant to part with the book. It is an American epic, a hero's journey, complete with tests and battles and a trip to the underworld. I'm not sure what the book says on a larger scale about myth or religion or America, but whatever it said when it was written in the late 90s is different than what it says now ... maybe? It really affected me to see that the author's note, which comes at the end, was written on January 15, 2001. Gaiman launched this book into the world at the beginning of that terrible year. Would he have been able to write the same book after? The climax of the book is the avoidance of a great chaotic bloodbath. What did it feel like to him to see the towers fall after that, to see the wars that followed? The sadness is overwhelming to me. And now, I guess, the are making a miniseries, because that is what we do now. All of prior culture will eventually be turned into a cable tv miniseries. You know, I think someone like Neil Gaiman should write a book about that. Or maybe someone like me.

Now on to The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, which I rereading in preparation for school.

Writing: Made some notes.

Dinner: For wine hour I made a "caponata" of minced up leftover grilled eggplants, patty pan, and butternut, combined with black olives, garlic scapes, fresh basil & oregano, lemon & orange zest and juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne.

Soundtrack: There is a cricket that sings in the oak tree in the evening.

Random thing: Z got seasick and O had an unfortunate run in with a dog too enthusiastic about its stick. He has a puncture by his thumb. Many people helped to nurse him in his great upset over the wound, but it looks fine. Prognosis is good.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reflection is a Flower of the Mind

You could buy this Estes for $350k. I think it would be
worth the outlay to be able to study it regularly.

We marked the end of our first week on the cove taking David's brother's family down the coast to the big city so they could catch an early flight the next morning. I got all dressed up and wore sparkly shoes. There were proudly gender bending youth holding hands on the sidewalk while an osprey cruised overhead. Outside the place we had dinner, a tattooed, bearded guy in a trucker's hat sipped beer from a can while my niece pet his Dachsund named Zelda.

You can't really see my sparkly shoes, but I am beautiful.

One of the things I really like about my brother in law is that the two things he is most interested in exploring in a new city are food and the art museum. At the PMA we found a special exhibit of paintings by Richard Estes, a photorealist of whom I was vaguely aware. His cityscapes are full of reflective panes of glass and strange angles that allow the viewer to see inside and outside buildings and beyond the frame of the paintings. And he uses random juxtapositions of signs and advertising and other word-bearing objects to make subtly ironic jokes ... or perhaps my apeish insistence on pattern recognition makes me find these jokes on my own. I found his images vertiginous in a way that a mere photograph never could be, and I will be thinking of his paintings for a long time. Also at PMA was a sculpture called "Raising Cairn" by Celeste Roberge that was so uncannily upsetting to me that I fled nearly in tears the window that made it visible to me.

Reading:  I am determined to finish American Gods today. 150 pages to go.

Writing: Thinking ... Talking to David about his writing ...

Dinner: We ate at a place off Longfellow Square. The food was very good, the service was middling, the wine list was great, and the cocktails were hit and miss (very good Corpse Reviver, middling Caiprinhas). The highlight of the meal was the warm goat cheese salad, which was, I think, the very best salad I have ever eaten. The paella with local shellfish and house-made chorizo was also notable.

Soundtrack: My young niece really liked the Everything But The Girl compilation that was playing when we drove to the salt pond near New Harbor on Friday. Twenty years ago at this time of year, David and I were falling in love to Amplified Heart.

Random thing: On the rocks, my favorite rocks, one of my favorite places in the world, today, I saw the two smallest spiders I have ever seen. The first had a shiny spherical black body the size of a poppy seed and tiny, barely visible bright red legs. The second was shaggy and gray and the size of half a short grain of rice.